Side notes

Sunday, 18 July 2010 07:21 by ali002

Ciao a tutti!

I read your comments.  Thank you so much for all of them!  If you wrote that you're interested in talking more about it with me through e-mail, contact me at -- I'd be happy to chat more.  I love talking about Italy and anything related to it!

As a follow-up to some of my last entries:  I just bought "Instant Immersion Italian," which is a great program similar to Rosetta Stone, but much less expensive!  Hopefully I'll be more fluent in the language soon.  I also bought a book on Tuscany, Florence, and Umbria, so I can begin planning where I want to travel next time in Italy.  Next time I'm there, it will hopefully be the entirety of next summer, 2011!  I hope to be using some of my graduate school student loans to study Italian at the Universita per Stranieri di Perugia (the University for Foreigners).  It's located just a block or two away from the Umbra Institute (my "alma mater") and centro (the center of Perugia).  I'm looking into ways I can find a job as well; either if I can get one where they need an English-speaker, or if I can know enough Italian by then to get another type of job.  We'll see how it goes until then! 



P.S. Sorry if the font is messed up in this post... something got messed up...

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Back in the U.S.

Sunday, 4 July 2010 03:30 by ali002

All of a sudden I'm back in America!  How did this happen so fast?  I want to go back to Perugia!!!

I had a nice surprise on my last day in Italy.  My roommate and her friend who was visiting from home were planning on going to Rome for the day to sightsee.  She's staying there for the next month to sing opera for her school.  Lucky!!!  But it was lucky for me too, because I hadn't seen Rome yet!  I had been to the Roma Fiumicino airport twice, once when I first got there, and again when I came back to get my lost luggage (that's right, they wouldn't send it to me...hmph).  But the airport was the only part of Rome I had seen!  Our flight back to the U.S. was leaving from Rome, so it worked out that I got to go along with them.  We stayed in a nice hotel.  We got to see the Colosseum and the Trevi Fountain.  We also had dinner at a nice restaurant, so we didn't have much time for anything else.  But the Colosseum was amazing!  Of course it was massive, and it was soooo beautiful at night.  We walked around the whole thing and took tons of pictures.  It was closed, so we couldn't go inside, but we could see inside a little bit from certain places we stood.  It's amazing to be there, imagining all the ancient history, and wondering what happened thousands of years ago right where you're standing!  And the Trevi Fountain...WOW.  So much huge, ornate sculpture that depicts the "taming of the water", the Tritons and Oceanus's shell chariot.  Of course, we had to throw coins into the fountain!  We each threw one in over our shoulders, because if you throw one in, supposedly that ensures that you'll return to Rome.  I really hope it works!!  I also read that if you throw two coins in, you will find a new romance, and if you throw three in, you'll either have a divorce or a marriage in your future!  I wasn't going to take my chances on that third one...  ;-)  We also got our last gelato, and ate it on the steps next to the Trevi Fountain.  Actually...I got two.  haha!  But to summarize, Rome really is magnificent, and it's just as big and incredible as it looks in the movies!  

Contrary to last time, my flight went well.  It was nice not to have to worry so much about trains and buses.  I got to ride the train over to Rome with friends, and then I didn't need to catch any trains or buses when I got home.  MUCH easier than last time, and my baggage wasn't lost, and nothing was stolen!  The only scary part was at the beginning when I went to print out my plane ticket and the machine didn't recognize my reservation!! I had to get the staff people to help me work that out -- they said the computer was messed up, probably because my connecting flight was changed on the way over, which changed my reservation somehow.  I was thinking NOOOOOO not again!!!  But thankfully, it worked out fine and the rest of the trip went smoothly.

Now that I'm home, I'm really enjoying spending time with family.  We went straight from the airport to New Jersey, in Cape May, to spend the the 4th of July at the beach.  Hopefully when I go back to PA I'll get to see some friends again.  But let me tell you...I am missing Perugia SO much.  I feel homesick for it!  I fell in love with it the second I got there, and ever since it just felt like the perfect place for me.  So one day I want to go back and live there longer, maybe forever.  I know I've said that a million times already!  

Until then, my goals this summer are to 1) work on getting a dual citizenship with Italy, 2) contact the Sons of Italy in Hanover, to try and get involved with them -- maybe they can give me some Italian lessons, (or I'll get Rosetta Stone, if I don't find a real tutor), and 3) research my family from Italy so I can plan on visiting any distant relatives that might still be there!  The plan is to try to find a way to stay in Perugia next year for the whole summer.  I'm going to keep in touch with Umbra staff, who said they'll give me advice, and maybe they can help me find a job and some connections.  But I'm already happy, because I  I've made some connections myself --  my friend Pietro, who lives in Perugia, has rooms he can rent out for a really good price.  I have already been arranging to rent from him next summer.  It looks like this could be possible, and I'm going to try my hardest to make it happen!  I just have to make sure I keep grad school my priority... unless some really great job presents itself to me in Italy -- but I'm not holding my breath for that to happen!  So we'll see.  I'm SO glad I went through this program.  As cheesy as it sounds, the whole experience breathed fresh new life into me!!  It's amazing where life can take you.  I'll never be the same!  :-)

The Godfather is on TV right appropriate.  Haha!  At this point, I'm just clinging to ANYTHING that reminds me of Italy!  I'm still in denial that I'm not there anymore...

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Non voglio tornare nella Stati Uniti!

Monday, 28 June 2010 16:11 by ali002

Just finished my finals...they went really well!  I'm sad that my classes are over.  They were a lot of fun and I learned a lot!

Today is the day before I leave from Italy to go back to the U.S.  I am SO SAD about it!  I am very very excited to see my family and friends back home, but I will probably cry when I leave for the airport because I don't want to leave this beautiful city!  I love Perugia so much, like I said before, I could happily live here forever!  The only thing I would miss would be my family and friends.  And Jiff peanut butter...that's a little important to me too.  haha!  But all the other food here more than makes up for missing peanut butter, believe me...but of course nothing can replace Mamma, Papa, big bro, and tutti miei amici!

I may have already mentioned this, but I will let you in on a little secret:  I have talked with professors and friends who grew up and live in Perugia about someday coming back here to get a job and live permanently!  (When I say "permanently," I mean maybe anywhere from a year or two, to an eternity! Whatever suits...)  Also, according to this guy I met here, it would be easy to get my Italian citizenship since my mom's side of the family is all Italian.  This guy's name is Andreas, and he's an American citizen from New Jersey and is also an Italian citizen living and working in Perugia.  That just gives you an idea of all the different places life can take you, and it's a small world to meet practically a next-door neighbor all the way over in Italy!  Apparently people come to Perugia for study abroad and love it so much they just never leave!  I wouldn't mind doing that myself, but I don't have the money or the language skills to get a job and an apartment here yet, and I have reponsibilities for grad school coming up in the fall at Kutztown.  But maybe after that!

My Italian teachers have told me the best way to come over here permanently is to get certified to teach English.  When I get home, I'm going to work on seeing if I can get my citizenship in Italy.  Then, I'll try to get Rosetta Stone for Italian, or take classes or something, so I can become more fluent.  I have learned SOOOO much compared to what I knew of the language before I came here!  In just 6 weeks I can do things like order food in Italian, have basic conversations, call and take taxis, and the other day I even talked to the plumber at our apartment about fixing the drains in our showers!  That says a lot about this program and the experience.  Not only has living here helped me learn the language, but the professors and classes here are great.  I loved my language class, and I'm going to keep in touch with both my language teacher and my modern culture teacher.  They said they'll answer all my questions about Italy and traveling, getting citizenship, getting jobs, moving here, language questions, whatever I want to know!  I'm definitely going to practice e-mailing in Italian with my language professor!

I also have a friend here, Pietro, who is in charge of a floor of his apartment.  He's contracted for another year or two so if I do decide to come back next summer, I'll rent from him for a good price!  I love having connections!  :-)  I'm going to do my best to keep in touch with all my new Italian friends.  We're trading e-mail addresses and adding each other on Facebook...I guess that makes it a little easier to say goodbye...

What would be really cool, I think, is if I could take over for one of the girls who work in the offices here at Umbra when they decide to leave.  I talked to them, and they said they're not planning on staying forever, so maybe I could have one of their jobs in a few years!  That would be great... other than that I wouldn't mind teaching English or finding some way to use my degree over here (jeez, isn't that a crazy idea?!)!

Anyway, tonight our Italian friends are throwing us a goodbye party!  We're going to hang out in the center and then go dancing at H2nO, one of the clubs in town.  We'll have to say all our goodbyes, and celebrate for the last time.  It's going to be a lot of fun, but bittersweet!  Now, I'm leaving to go for a run in the park, and then hopefully a long walk around Perugia with my roommates to take some last pictures of our favorite places in the city.  I'll probably post some pictures and videos on here when I get home, when I can use my own computer.  The school computers don't seem to load them onto the website for me.  So look for that stuff in a few days.  Ciao a tutti, c’è vediamo!  :-)

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Festa di Cena!

Friday, 18 June 2010 17:50 by ali002

The Italians always have us over or come over to our place to cook dinner, so I decided we should return the favor last night.  I've been cooking on my own a lot here, and I've taught myself how to cook a lot of nice foods.  With fresh produce being cheaper and higher in quality here than in the U.S., and so much good pasta and sauces to choose from, of COURSE I had to experiment!  So we had about 15 people over last night, including our Italian friends and our American friends from Umbra.  I heated up fresh bread to dip in oil/pesto, and tossed a salad with buffalo mozzerella.  I even made my Italian grandmother's recipe for salad dressing - oil, vinegar, oregano, pepper, and I added my own ideas like parmesan cheese and pesto!  I made pasta with ricotta/tomato sauce and sauteed vegetables.  Of course there was wine pouring continuously!  Although everyone got a plate, some people were still hungry, so I even cooked some spinach and ricotta tortellini with pesto and oil.  Then we had Perugian chocolate for dessert.  I was really happy, because the Italians thought my food was great and they only had to give me a couple little tips.  I did it all myself, which is a big deal for me!  Now all I need to do is learn how to make my family's sauce from scratch, because in America you can't get GOOD sauce in a jar like you can get here at the grocery stores.

After dinner, Valentino taught us an Italian drinking game, and we taught them an American drinking game (Kings, of course!)  We had a lot of fun.  Parties here are classy!  Living in Italy is a party every day.  Yes, you go to work, but in the evenings it's all about family, friends, food, and wine.  They really know what's important!  I love it so much that I'm thinking of possibilites on how I can come back soon.  I would love to spend the whole summer here next year to see how I like it without being an Umbra student, completely on my own.  I'll get a job this year to save money for the trip and take Italian classes, or work on Rosetta Stone all year to prepare.  Then if I'm fluent enough it might be possible, and I could get a summer job here.  Then maybe when I'm done with school I could move here permanently!  Apparently the easiest way to become an Italian citizen, according to Professor Termini (I love her! She's Italian, and both a citizen of Italy and the U.S. since she also teaches in the U.S. and her husband is American), is to get certified to teach English.  Even though I've always hated the idea of being a teacher, I don't think I would mind that as much because it's totally different than the type of teaching I considered before.  This would be fun for me, because I would be working with Italians all the time, speaking their beautiful language, and trading knowledge about culture.  I would be able to learn from them as I would teach them my language!  Another thing I could try is to work with foreign students, like the Umbra Staff here does, because that would be a good use of my degree.  Or maybe I could even be a counselor, which is the career I'm going for in America.  I'm thinking of a lot of options, because the lifestyle in Italy is perfect for me and I feel right at home!

Today we visited the Perugina Chocolate Factory.  It's now owned by Nestle, but it's chocolate is one-of-a-kind and originated in Perugia.  We watched a movie on how the different types of chocolate are made, and took a tour of the museum to learn a little bit about the history of Perugian chocolate.  It was very interesting, and I walked away with plenty of treats for my family and friends.  Baci ("kisses", sort of like Hershey's kisses, only different and wayyyy better!), which you can find all over the world, are the most important candy produced by the factory.  They are small chocolate moldings with hazelnut pieces, and then an entire hazelnut on top, all covered in a layer of 51% (I think) cacao chocolate.  They are delicious and unlike anything else.  The wrappers all have love notes on the inside, because Baci are supposed to be the chocolate of love.  The packages are all a dark blue sky with stars, with a picture of Romeo and Juliet kissing.  The Perugina Chocolate Factory is the only factory in the world where Baci are made, so they have to produce thousands and thousands per minute!  They also make lots of other types of chocolate: Nero (black, or dark), Fondente (also dark), and Latte (milk), as well as chocolate with cherries, nuts, and different "fruit-laced" chocolate bars, as I like to call them.  They also make cakes and cookies.  It's my new favorite brand of sweets!

This afternoon after I do some schoolwork, I'm going to go with some friends to a special store where you can get the best olive oil in town.  I want to take some home with me, because obviously it's almost impossible to find olive oil in the U.S. as perfect as they have here.  Then, we'll go out for MORE gelato!

Isn't it funny how everything in Italy is about food?!  It seems like it's all I can talk about!  But really, it's much more than that.  The whole experience is a culture shock, but in a good way!  Everyone is so friendly, and life is happy, relaxed, and peaceful.  Italy has it's problems like any other country, and of course there are always exceptions, so I'm not trying to generalize or stereotype.  I love America, but it seems like we have different values.  We are so hurried and career-focused, always trying to get ahead and make money to support ourselves or to find happiness as independent people.  I'm not saying that no one in America has values like the ones I'm mentioning about Italy, but the general dynamic of the two countries and their societies is totally different.  What I love about Italy's value system: people work hard and prioritize their careers and success, but only enough to support themselves so they are comfortable.  Your career is not what defines you.  The family is a large network where everyone supports each other in every way, including financially, so that there is very little debt and people are not completely on their own.  Happiness is based on good food and wine, beauty (not only art, music, and nature, but also "bella figura" - hospitality, caring for one's appearance, orderliness, and generosity), and of course socializing and spending time with friends and family. 

Cheers to that, or as we say here, "SALUTE!"

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Tuscany and Florence

Wednesday, 16 June 2010 20:00 by ali002

This past weekend, I visited Tuscany with my Italian Culture class.  This was my favorite trip so far, because it was on the countryside, and we got to taste wine and olive oil at a real vineyard!  The setting itself was beautiful, on the top of a hill overlooking miles of farmland.  We tried 5 kinds of delicious Chianti of different ages, paired with homemade breads, olive oil, prosciutto, salami, etc.  We also got to taste a sweet dessert wine with biscotti.  The man who hosted us was very cute and friendly, and spoke to us in all Italian.  I could understand the jist of most of it, but our Umbra staff translated for us.  Tuscany is my favorite -- I would love to live there!  The streets are so charming, all cobblestone and peaceful, with flowers, little villas, and old shops. 

After the wine tasting, we went to a local butcher shop with a restaurant on the second floor.  We learned all about this Butcher's philosophy on food, and how his work has been passed down through generations in his family.  His food was delicious, and the whole meal was a ton of fun.  It seemed to come out course after course, and we were all stuffed by the end.  There was a lot of wine, and a digestivo at the end (an after-dinner drink, like a shot of Sambuca or something like that).  As usual, my favorite was the espresso and cake they served for dessert!  I will miss the coffee soooooooo much when I leave Italian teacher from LVC, Gargotta, was right when he said there is NOTHING in the U.S. that compares to Italian espresso!  I remember him saying none of the coffee in the U.S. is REAL coffee.  That is so true!

We only spent a day in Tuscany, so when my class left to go back to Perugia, some other friends and I caught a bus to Florence for the rest of the weekend.  It was Molly's 21st birthday, and she wanted to travel for it.  So we booked a hostel and took the bus over.  The hostel was much nicer than I expected it to be -- very clean, and a lot of people there spoke English, which was surprising.  We got there in the evening, and after we got cleaned up we decided to take a walk around town.  Our hostel was outside the center of the city, so we stayed on the outskirts...but we were glad we did because we found the best pizzeria and the best gelateria in the world!  This gelateria had the darkest chocolate I've ever tasted!  It was literally the color of a dark chocolate candy bar, and even for me it was almost too sweet after a while!!!  That's exactly how it should be!!  They also had La Dolce Vita (The Sweet Life), which is a very rare flavor.  I think it's vanilla cream, maybe with some chocolate, and it had swirls of Nutella all through.  Soooooo goooood!

On Saturday, we woke up and went out for some late breakfast/early lunch.  We found a caffe that served both American and Italian food.  The girls were missing American food, so that's why we went.  But of course I don't miss American food, so I got pasta with pomodoro and pesto, and a wonderful iced cappuccino!  For the rest of the day we went sight-seeing around Florence.  We saw the Duomo, which is one of the most famous cathedrals, and other land marks like Ponte Vecchio, which is a bridge across the river.  San Miniato was my favorite place in Florence because of the beautiful view.  We had to climb a whole bunch of stairs that led to the church, where there were old medieval graveyards, and if you look out you can see all of Florence!  The church was enormous, with the most intricate woodwork, stone carvings, and frescos all over the walls.  The cielings were so high up, and what I really loved was the giant organ.  We were lucky to be visiting right before Saturday Mass, so there was even an organ player there playing preludes!  I took videos on my camera.  We also ate dinner in a cute little place where they served ravioli with spinach and walnut cream sauce, and vino!  It was delicious.  Then we went to a pub to get drinks for Molly (the birthday girl!) and watch the calcio game!  (Soccer -- U.S. tied with England!)  We put our hands on our hearts and sang along to the U.S. National Anthem in the middle of the pub at the beginning of the game, and got a round of applause!  It was really funny, because I kept thinking while we were singing "We're either going to get booed, beat up, and kicked out, or we're going to have people laughing at us"...but I guess people thought it was funny.  We even met some people from America after they heard us singing.  One of them was a girl who came over here to study and decided to move over to teach English and live here forever!  Sounds like a good idea to me... :-)

The rest of the night, we walked around town and went to different bars, gelaterias, and street attractions.  There is a lot happening on the streets of Florence on a Saturday night!  I think Molly had a great birthday!  Florence was fantastic, but by Sunday, I was excited to get back to Perugia.  Perugia is the perfect town for me!  I feel here the way I felt when I first went to LVC -- like it's home, and I'm supposed to be here!  Everything about it is just my speed, what I like, and how I want to live.  I even miss the people in Perugia when I travel.  I have Italian friends here now that I miss when I go away.  Also, obviously I don't know everyone, but Perugia is a small enough town where you can see a lot of the same people on a regular basis.  Not only that, but the dogs!  Everyone takes their dogs out every day, so I get to see them all the time!  Some of the cutest puppies live in Perugia... :-)

Anyway, my roommate, Olivia, and I are going to get gelato!  And then later, we're going to our friend Fillippo's house with a bunch of other friends to have another authentic Italian dinner!!  Plus I have an exam to study for..........   Ciao!

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Living the Good Life

Thursday, 10 June 2010 21:56 by ali002


This week I've been living it up in Italy the way the real Italians do!  Not much traveling -- I have just been going to class and experiencing life in Perugia as a resident.  The weather has finally gotten more like summer, and it has been warm and beautiful.  I also bought a camera to replace the one that was stolen, so I have finally been able to take pictures!  Soon I'll put some up on here, when I figure out how this new stuff works (I'm technologically impaired...).

It's amazing how many people here say they want to move to America, because I want to move to Italy and live here forever!  Everything is so much more relaxed.  In the U.S., we're all rushed and concerned about our careers and making a living.  Here, it's about experiencing life for what it is -- food, wine, friends, family, and relaxing.  Yes, people work, but it's not the way it is in the U.S.  In the U.S., people live to work.  Here, people work to live!  Every day, you wake up and have breakfast.  You go to work (or school, in my case), and work until around 2 in the afternoon, when you have about 2 hours off to eat lunch and relax!  Everything closes at this time in the day, just for that purpose.  Then you go back to work until about 8 (depending on your job) and then everything closes again so everyone can go home and cook a nice dinner for themselves and their families.  Everything is fresh and locally/home-made.  The evenings are devoted to a long dinner and socializing.  People might sit down for 2-3 hours just to have a meal, drink, talk, and relax.  At night, everyone goes out.  The center of Perugia is crowded with people every night just hanging out, taking walks with friends and their dogs, sitting on the stairs, getting something to drink, going to clubs and dancing.  Anyone of any age can drink whatever they want, whenever they want, wherever they want! 

Not to say there are no worries in Italy, but it is so much more fun and relaxed here than it is in America!  So with this basic schedule, I have been learning a lot about cooking and speaking in Italian.  I even got to go see an Italian cinema!  It was an American film, "The Road," but it was all changed to Italian.  Surprisingly, I understood most of it!  I guess those language classes are paying off!  Also, I have a friend from Perugia, Tomoso, who works for the Italian Army.  He has to take language classes to learn better English.  So I have been helping him with his writing assignments, and he has been helping me with my Italian!  Fair trade, right?  Also, my roommates and I have made friends with some other Italian guys at the clubs.  One is a DJ - Zaf; the other is a bartender, Valentino; and there is also Pietro and Phillippo.  They have come over twice in the last week or so to cook dinner with us and drink wine.  We invited a bunch of friends from school too.  The guys made one of the best pasta dishes I have ever had, right in my own kitchen!!  I took pictures, believe me!  I HAD to document real Italian men cooking for me in my own apartment!  We had SO much fun, laughing and joking around, and teasing each other about our different accents and customs.  One of my favorite things about this experience is the people I have met, who grew up in Italy.  It's another reason I know I won't be able to leave this country without planning to come back someday soon!

This morning I had class, and then we went down the street to a cafe for wine tasting!  We tried 3 different types of wine - one from Umbria (this region), the other from Sicily, and another from Northern Italy.  All three were fantastic!!!  I wrote down all the names, as well as a wine museum that I need to visit just outside of Perugia.  After that, my friends and I went out for some amazing pizza to soak up the alcohol and of course gelato to finish off!

Now I have another trip to look forward to, starting tomorrow early in the morning.  We're going to TUSCANY!  We will be visiting a farm for more wine tasting and learning how to make real pasta.  And on Saturday, I'm hoping to make it to Florence to sight-see and celebrate one of my roommates' birthdays.  It should be a great weekend, so of course more blogging will be in order!  More later; ciao a tutti!!!

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The Amalfi Coast

Tuesday, 1 June 2010 19:35 by ali002

Buon giorno!

Last weekend, I went with a group on a trip to the Amalfi Coast.  Other students and I stayed all weekend in a four-star hotel in Sorrento.  I was assigned to room with some really fun girls, and we're close friends now.  We had so many felt like a party all weekend! 

On Friday, the day we arrived, we took a walking tour of Pompeii, the ancient Roman city.  We learned all about the history of it and got to see all the statues, mosaics, ceremonial places, homes, and beautiful frescos on the walls.  It was amazing it be able to walk through something so old and historic that had been excavated from underneath a volcano.  There were also corpses preserved in rocks from the volcanic eruption, which was both eerie and fascinating.

On Saturday, we took a ferry to Capri.  This was my favorite part of the trip.  The views were beautiful, like everywhere in Italy, but this was special because we were near the water and got to hang out on the beach.  (My family visits the Victorian beach town of Cape May, NJ every summer, and Capri reminded me of the Italian version of that!)  There were unique shops all along the port, and lots of great places to get pizza and gelato.  We took a boat ride around the coast and went into the Grotto Arruzzo (the blue grotto), which was a dark cave inside of the cliff where the water glows bright blue because of reflections of the sun through the opening.  It was so pretty; I don't think you can see that kind of blue anywhere else in the world.  We all had to lay in little rowboats boats and duck inside so we didn't hit our heads on the rocks, because the men had to shove the boats inside the little opening.  They showed us what used to be a villa inside the grotto in ancient times, and a big lion's head carved out of stone.  Some of the boatmen even sang to us the rest of the way out!  It was so cool!  Even the boatride to the grotto was fantastic -- it was so relaxing to ride on a boat on the water around these giant cliffs and green hills.

After that, some friends and I took a lift up to the top of the mountain of Capri, where the views were absolutely amazing.  When you look out, all you see is blue water, big hills with lots of green trees and old stone buildings, and a big blue sunny sky.  It was a little hazy, but you could still see for miles.  There were more shops and a beautiful little church on the top of Capri.  I even got to see a bride and groom having wedding pictures taken.  After we walked around there, we took the stairs all the way down, and went past all the little villas, where lucky people live!  Everything is stone and brick, with flowers and plants everywhere.  We even saw a little green lizard.  This is what life is about, all the beautiful, colorful little details!

Of course in the evenings, we had dinner and wine.  The food the hotel provided wasn't the best Italy has to offer, but it was pretty good.  We were all happy, as long as there was wine!  It's amazing - the wine in Italy is so cheap, and SO TASTY!  A large amount of the wine here only cost 3-5 euro per bottle, and in my opinion, they're the same quality (or better!) as a 20 dollar bottle would in the U.S.  Of course, there are more expensive ones, but it's so much easier here to get an inexpensive wine that is still delicious.  And, it's sold EVERYWHERE! 

On Saturday night, we tried to go club hopping, but in Sorrento there really isn't much night life.  It's all about the beach there.  But we still managed to find a couple places to hang out.  We all had fun experiencing the social atmosphere, but the night life is definitely better in Perugia!  On Friday night, we didn't know where the clubs were, so we took a midnight walk down a never-ending stone staircase that led to the beach.  First time I ever got to stick my feet in the Mediterranean! 

On Sunday we went to Naples.  It was a really interesting city -- a little rough, but if you know the right places to go, you can see some really great things.  We saw some beautiful old buildings, statues, a church... Everything in Naples is huge!  I really liked this old palace that was restored into a mall; everything was made of stone and marble, and there were the most ornate paintings and golden decorations all over the walls and the dome, which seemed to be miles high.  Also, the best gelato is in Naples.  I had cioccolato and stracciatella in a home-made sugar cone (unlike anything in the U.S.!), and it was by far the best dessert I have ever tasted in my life!!!  I got it at this old cafe (I forget the name) that is famous because it's a meeting place for writers and poets.  It was so pretty inside, and I have never seen so many delicious pastries and treats, as well as all kinds of coffee!  By the way, Naples has the restaurant where pizza was invented!  We went inside, but unfortunately it was not open for the day yet, so we got our lunch elsewhere.  On a bus tour, I learned that Naples is also famous for mozzerella and Limoncello.  Delicous!

I suppose that's all for now.  Whew!  I'm trying to keep it brief and to the point, which is difficult when there is so much I could say!  No words or writing could do any of these experiences justice!  Arrividerci...

P.S.  I'll try to get some pictures up soon - I think when my luggage was lost at the airline, someone stole my camera.  When I finally got my suitcase back both my digital camera and my external hard drive were missing!  But I'll find a way to get some pictures soon.  Never pack values in checked baggage - at least not in the pockets they don't seal!!  Oh, life lessons... *sigh*...

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Week One

Wednesday, 26 May 2010 18:28 by ali002

Today is May 25, and I am finally posting for the first time!  I have just been so busy I haven't had enough time to sit down and write about it all.  I'm having the greatest time here in Perugia, meeting people, learning the language and the culture, shopping, exploring, and of course EATING!  I have had so much authentic Italian pizza!  It's deliziosa!

First, I'll tell you about my trip over here.  Long story short, my flight to Venice was delayed by 2 1/2 hours, which meant that I wouldn't be able to catch my connecting flight to Rome.  I had no telephone (my cell phone doesn't work in Italy), and no other way to contact anyone.  I had to get a new connecting flight to Rome, which was also delayed.  Then, when I finally got to Rome, I had to get a train ticket, which also had a connection in Foligno!  I missed my first train connection because I was unaware that there were only 5 minutes to get to the next one!  But a nice Italian man helped me change my ticket and work it out.  I met a girl from Madrid on the train, who was also going to Perugia, and she spoke just enough English that we could communicate to help each other.  It was interesting to meet a girl from Madrid in Italy!  Neither one of us knew what we were doing, but putting our heads together helped us figure out where we needed to stop and find a bus to Perugia.  In Perugia, we were dropped off at the bus station.  It was 12:30 a.m., and there were strangers outside the bus station that we were afraid to talk to, but we needed them to help us use the payphone.  My calling card didn't work, so a strange guy had to get a cab for me.  I was afraid I was going to get kidnapped or mugged, but he turned out to be nice and helpful.  The cab driver didn't speak much English, but he still managed to assist me in finding Umbra...but Umbra was closed, and I didn't know what hotel my group was staying at.  So I had to find a hotel to stay for the night.  I have never been more scared in my life!  But the hotel was adorable, and so was the little Italian couple that owned it.  It was 45 euro for the night, including a great continental breakfast (where I had my first real Italian coffee, and biscuits with nutella, mmmmm!!!)  After the long struggle, I was able to find an English speaking man in a cafe who let me use his iPhone to call the Umbra emergency number.  I was finally able to contact them, and got a cab to the hotel they were staying at.  This traveling experience was the most hectic and stressful thing I've ever done, because I was lost for about 42 hours!  But I got through it, and now that I'm in Perugia it was completely worth it.  ...Even though my luggage was lost during my connecting flight.  (A week and a half has gone by, and it still hasn't been returned to me.  I have to make another trip to the Rome airport to pick it up myself!  It's frustrating, but I'm just glad it was found).

Even before my Italian class (which I love!) started, I began learning the language a lot on my own, just by reading books and speaking to people in stores and restaurants.  The town is so quaint and historic, and it's a great place for shopping too!  I have made a lot of new friends, and we help each other find the best places to eat and sight-see.  My roommates are wonderful -- we get along perfectly and have a lot in common.  I have gone to a couple of night clubs with friends, and the Italian men LOVE us American girls.  But we are being's nice to meet people, but we don't want any trouble!  Going to nightclubs has actually been quite a learning experience.  Socializing that way helps me learn the language and culture, and make new friends who can teach me what it's really like to be in Italy.  It has been fantastic!

My favorite things about Italy so far:  the people I've met, the cappuccino, the gelato, the pizza, the chocolate croissants (cornetti, or brioche), the wine, the views of the towns and countryside, walking through town on the cobblestone streets, and generally just hearing people speak the language every day...I could go on forever!  I will write more details later, including pictures and hopefully some videos (when I finally get my camera back with my missing luggage!!) but for now, I'll close by proclaiming that that I want to live in Perugia forever!!!  I am in love!

Ciao ciao!



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A tiny intro...

Tuesday, 25 May 2010 18:08 by ali002

Ciao all!  I have been in Perugia now for a week, and it has been the best experience of my life!!!  I don't have time right now to do a full entry, but as a heads-up, you can be certain that the first real blog entry will be posted very soon.  I have SO many fantastic things to talk about!  Keep an eye out... Cool

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Tuesday, 18 May 2010 15:01 by shapiro

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